With the New Year comes the desire to purge out some of the old and declutter your home. I know that we have simplified a lot and gotten rid of plenty of the things we thought we couldn’t live without. The fire was a big help in that process but it also taught me something. This has been reinforced as I have walked some hard stuff with some great friends. Don’t donate your junk!!
Don’t Donate Your Junk!!
It can be so liberating to purge things from your home. I can also see how it would make you feel amazing inside to donate the things you can’t use to others. I am all for helping other people out. That said, don’t donate your junk. What do I mean by this? You know that broken toy, chair with the weak leg, or really dirty old desk you have? Yes, someone may be able to fix it and find joy it. It may also bring them more stress than they need. Instead, donate things that matter and recycle or throw away things that are genuinely broken.
My experience after the house fire.
When we had our house fire we lost almost all of the laundry we had. I will tell you a secret. I wasn’t caught up and almost everything of mine was in the bathroom on the dryer. We were living in a hotel and paying $7 a load to do laundry. I had a few different people offer to give us clothes and I was incredibly thankful. I was living off of 3 shirts and a pair of jeans.
Then the bag of clothes came. I remember it so clearly. I sat in the hotel, opened the bag excited to try on some new to me clothes, and have options to wear beyond my 3 shirts. Then I opened the bag and the strong smell of smoke hit me. Now, I want to put this out there. I appreciated the gift. Any other time I would have passed it on to someone who wasn’t the victim of a house fire. However, I sat there in the hotel room and cried. I cried because that smell triggered all the memories of our house fire and completely overwhelmed me.
I share this story because I think it illustrates an important point.
Think of the people you are donating to.
That bag of clothes was probably a blessing to someone less sensitive. I passed it on to someone who was very excited to have the clothes and was able to use and enjoy them. I just couldn’t handle it because of the smoke smell. Think before you donate and make sure you are giving something to someone that will actually help them.
Meet a need but don’t overwhelm people.
After our fire our friends were good about meeting a need. A good friend of mine didn’t have the same luck. She had to move her family of 8 into a 2 bedroom. People donated 30 bags of clothes to her. They could barely walk because of all the clothes. That said, most of the clothing they were given wasn’t even for the size or type she needed for the people in her house. She had to sort thru those 30 bags and donate out a lot of it.
The picture above was our house after our fire. Everything we owned was cleaned and boxed up. Imagine looking at that and then receiving tons of donations that you have to go thru to find a few items that will work for your family.
Don’t donate broken items.
While you are purging, it can be tempting to throw broken items in the donation pile, don’t. If a toy or item is broken, throw it out. Sometimes people can fix things but it means that the organization you are donating to has to dispose of it or that they have to spend more time sorting. If it isn’t something you intend to fix and you know it is broken, throw it out.
Ask on Facebook.
If it is something you think could be used but you aren’t sure about donating, post a pic on FB. One of your friends may want that item. You clear the clutter and they get something they need.
Ask yourself this one question before donating something to someone else:
Would I use/eat/appreciate this if it was given to me during a hard time?
If you can’t answer that with a yes, it might be better not to donate it.
If you are planning to donate items, do your research.
I know that different places will accept different items. I had to donate some fabric out. While a thrift store might appreciate selling it, there is an organization I learned about locally that makes quilts for children removed from their homes by the police when there is a domestic issue. That’s such a beautiful organization and I am excited to see my extra fabric being used for something good. Take a few minutes and find out where special items would be best used.
Looking for more?